Monthly Archives: August 2022

A new design – Hyacinth

Inspired by a dress offered for sale on the Museum Selection site I have drafted a new dress pattern. It is a hack/combination of several designs as follows:

Basic Myosotis bodice, extended length, converted to the Maryon neckline, plus a self-drafted collar. Shirred puffed sleeves from the Sophie design by Victory patterns. I added a button through gathered skirt made from 2 rectangles, each 32 inches length x width of fabric and 2 patch pockets.

Line drawing and samples fabric & button

For this ‘wearable muslin’ I used 3metres x 114cms wide cotton floral print – total cost £14.97 bought from Fabricland, Bournemouth back in February 2022. As this is such a florally-designed print, I have named this dress design ‘Hyacinth’ after Hyacinth Bucket, a character in the TV series, ‘Keeping up Appearances’.

The collar: I started sewing with the collar as I had decided that if it did not work out, I could abandon the collar and stick with a simple V-neckline. Fabric was tight so the undercollar was cut from a complimentary poly/cotton from my stash (yet another remnant from a king size duvet cover conversion project). To ensure that the undercollar did not roll to the top side, I inserted some narrow piping. I was delighted with the way that this turned out so proceeded with making up the bodice. Darts and shoulder seams were stitched and then the collar machine basted in place. Looking good. On to the side seams of the bodice in preparation of completing the neckline and then adding the sleeves.

Close Up neckline & collar

Sleeves: I used the short sleeve from the Sofia dress by Victory patterns but due to shortage and width of the fabric had to reduce the width at the hem. This still made the hem about 20 inches wide so enough for shirring and a little frill, plus lots of ‘pouff’ at the sleeve head.

Skirt & pockets: As the skirt was cut as 2 rectangles with a centre back seam I decided to add some patch pockets (for a change to my usual concealed side seam pockets). I used two pieces that were left after the cutting out and this gave me quite large pockets with curved bottoms and straight tops. As the pockets were very wide, I added a central inverted pleat for extra interest and to accommodate the extra width. Once the skirt had been gathered and attached to the bodice, I identified their location which was 3½ inches down from the waist seam and 3½ inches from the side seam point on the bodice.

Button fastening: I was most fortunate to find a set of Teal Blue sparkly buttons (included with a fabric parcel from Rainbow Fabrics) that matched perfectly with the colours of the floral print. There are 5 buttons on the bodice and 7 on the skirt.

The hem of the skirt was overlocked before turning up by 2 inches and machine blind hem stitched in place.

Finished Wearable Toile version of Hyacinth design

Conclusion: I am very pleased with the finished dress although I am not 100% sure about the collar. It fits well with the style of the dress but in the final analysis I believe that I prefer a V-neckline with no collar, but maybe next time a bias cut frill to compliment the frill on the sleeves.

Project #39 completed 20th August 2022.

Ethel Tote Bag

As a change from dressmaking, I decided to make a new handbag, especially as I have not made one since BC (before Covid!).

Ethel by Swoon Patterns

I chose the ‘Ethel’ by Swoon patterns. Ethel is a roomy, sturdy and stylish open tote bag. With a teardrop shape, Ethel veers away from the usual boxy tote. It’s a “stuff it in and run out the door” kind of bag, designed to comfortably sling over your shoulder. There are a few slip pockets for the small things.

Ethel bag for a friend

I have previously made this bag as a gift so now I will have one of my own. I used a remnant of stretch cotton denim that I had left over from a pair of ‘Texas’ trousers. For the lining, I used remnants from the recently made ‘Libby’ blouse.

Construction notes: I used fusible interfacing to stabilise the stretch floral print denim and ‘headliner’ stabiliser. ‘Headliner’ is a foam stabiliser (an alternative to Bosal ®) that is used in the car manufacturing industry to line the insides of cars, e.g. roof and door panels. As it is not fusible I machine basted within the seam allowance to the interfaced pieces of the bag. Although not instructed in the pattern, I also used headliner in the handles and 2 layers in the bag base. I cut a pattern for a Flap to which I attached a slip lock in nickel (from my bag-making hardware stash) and added 4 nickel bag feet to the base.

Elasticated slip pocket

Inside the bag I made an elasticated top slip pocket plus a divided slip pocket that is especially sized for my ancient mobile phone.

Wrangling the bag is a little like arm wrestling when turning right side out but I am delighted with the end result.

Ethel in Stretch Floral Print Denim

Project #38 completed 16th August 2022

Sofia dress by Victory Patterns

A very popular style this Spring and Summer is a dress with shirred bodice. Although very late to the party, I have done shirring in the past – firstly way back in the 1960’s and more recently before Covid when I made the Siena dress by Sew Over It.

Sofia dress by Victory Patterns

I checked out several ‘make your own pattern’ vlogs on the internet but was still not confident to try ‘going it alone’ so purchased the Sofia dress pattern by Victory Patterns. I checked out the size and measurements chart before deciding to make the size 20, version 1 dress with the short puff sleeves.

Viscose Challis from Rainbow Fabrics

I had chosen this pretty viscose challis deliberately as it had a background print of even checks that I could use as a guide for the lines of shirring. The fabric came from Rainbow Fabrics and I purchased 3 metres at a cost of £10.78.

First task was a trial run of the shirring. Having hand-wound several bobbins with shirring elastic I cut a rectangle 10 inches across by 5 inches deep and then stitched rows of shirring on my machine. The settings were for a stitch length of 5.00 with tension racked up to 9.00. The swatch was then steamed with the iron until it shrunk down to 5 inches across.

Shirring sample swatch

The 3 metres was easily sufficient to cut the dress with a plain skirt. Initially I had considered adding a ruffle at the hem but decided that would add too much weight to the skirt and may cause the bodice to drag down.

I completed the shirring for the front and back bodice, then completed the construction of the sleeves. All the shirring took a total of 16 pre-wound shirring elastic bobbins. I stitched the side seams of the bodice and tried it on having pinned the sleeves in place. It was immediately apparent that I would have wear a strapless bra as the sleeves are set too wide. I recalled that on one of the vlogs the seamstress encountered the same problem, the easy solution is to add the shoulder bands as shown with the Bell sleeves.

Bodice with shoulder bands included

Next onto the skirt. I did not use the pattern. I simply cut two rectangles 40 inches wide x 34 inches deep. By cutting rectangles I was able to use the printed check lines to ensure accuracy. No side seam pockets for this little number as the fabric is too light the pocket bags would pull on the side seams and and without lining the skirt, show through on the right side. I overlocked all the seam allowances for speed as this dress is a ‘wearable muslin’ in anticipation of making another in a different print. The hem was of the skirt was double turned by 3 inches to add some weight to the hemline and then hand stitched in place.

Completed Sofia Dress

Conclusion: The fabric is exceptionally soft and lightweight, perfect for this project. The check print made keeping the lines of shirring straight very easy. I particularly like the short sleeves with shirring and ruffle. I will definitely be using that pattern on other dresses. When this style dress was a project on The Great British Sewing Bee the contestants were allowed 3½ hours to complete. My version has taken longer but maybe the next iteration will be a quicker sew. I may revisit this dress and add a plain White viscose voile lining to the skirt for modesty but in the meantime will enjoy my ‘milkmaid-look’ dress.

Project #37 completed 9th August 2022

Libby Blouse #8

Using remnants of poly/cotton from a superking-sized duvet cover originally purchased several years ago, I count this garment as a ‘freebie’. The print is a little drab but should be a foil against some of my bold-coloured skirts, trousers and dungarees.

Libby Blouse by Sew Over It

I cut the pattern as per the adjustments made previously that include adding ½ inch to the side seams and adding 3 inches to the length of the shaped hemline. I would have preferred to add more to the length but was constrained by the size of the remnant pieces of fabric.

The fabric was easy to cut out, press and stitch which makes the entire process of construction a joy.

My JUKI overlocker was used to finish the seam allowances. The hem was first neatened with the overlocker before being turned twice and top-stitched in place.

Libby Blouse #8 in Poly/cotton

After 4 hours of stitching, five mother of pearl shell buttons for closure at the front and this Libby #8 blouse is complete.

Project #36 completed 4th August 2022